Wallabies legend John Eales will become the first athlete from outside of rugby league to be honoured with a statue at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The 86-cap lock will be immortalised in bronze in recognition of his storied 11-year career in rugby, during which he captained both Queensland and Australia.

The statue of Eales will capture him being lifted by another player in a lineout and is designed to enable fans to pose for pictures while holding his legs.

It will be unveiled before Australia’s Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in September.

Eales won two World Cups with Australia – one as captain in 1999 – and led Queensland to two Super Rugby championships.

However, most of his rugby in Brisbane was played at Ballymore, having run out onto Suncorp Stadium only three times.

He said he was honoured, if a little “uncomfortable” with the honour.

“I stand here very reluctantly. If I was selecting the subject of the statue, it wouldn’t be me,” Eales said.

“I played with so many great players for both Queensland and Australia and I’ve watched many others since I’ve retired – players who were far more influential on games than I was.

“This is a rugby honour, far more than it is my honour.”

Designed by sculptor Liam Hardy, the statue of Eales will stand at more than 3m tall and weigh approximately 300kg.

It will be the fifth statue at Suncorp Stadium, with the other four – all of Queensland State of Origin icons – at the Caxton Street end.

More could soon be on the way, with Queensland sports minister Michael de Brenni saying he would welcome suggestions for others – including from soccer, the other major tenant at Suncorp Stadium.

It’s understood the Milton Street end, where the Eales statue will be positioned, will be set aside for statues of rugby and soccer greats.

Three-time Brisbane Roar championship winner Thomas Broich and former Socceroos coach Frank Farina are among the popular choices.


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